How Much Money Do Architectural Offices Make?

In this article, you can find a statistical cross-section of the Finnish architectural landscape. As the title suggests, this article is not going to look into the architectural qualities of different offices instead it’s going to use financial data and descriptive statistics to sense the architectural market in Finland.

What’s the point of using financial data? The economy as a social science is essentially concerned with how people interact with things of value. Knowing how much people are willing to pay for a particular service quite often (though not always) can give an approximate hint about the value it provides to society. Additionally, Financial information is always meticulously collected and stored for management and taxation purposes. Since every office collects and stores financial data in a similar manner, we have a common metrics to compare otherwise very different organizations. Luckily for us, this information is openly available in Finland. With the use of some basic descriptive statistics, we can now analyze the information in the field and hopefully gain some useful insights.


The previous reading list suggested that architecture is a body of knowledge concerned with the synthesis of orderly structures. The computational paradigm shift that occurred in the second half of the nineteenth century vastly extended the boundaries of architectural knowledge. Today computational thinking offers a new perspective on the most critical aspects of architecture as a discipline. The fundamental concepts which underline computational theory expose form as a subsidiary component of the environment, and the environment as a complex web of energies in a dynamic exchange of both regeneration and degeneration (information). The emergence of this perspective has come at the confluence of different modes of thinking, in alignment with various scientific, technological, and cultural advancements spanning several decades. …


Architecture is not about buildings. Architecture is primarily a body of knowledge concerned with the synthesis of orderly structures. Considering the large time span over which this knowledge was accumulated, it is apparent that a single person can no longer have the mental capacity or the life span to familiarize himself with all the outstanding information. However, a brief selection of texts can give a very general outline and capture the significant ideas that shaped the history of architectural discourse. What follows is a reading list targeted at someone starting their studies in the field of architecture.

Architectural movements in this article are presented in separate paragraphs in a linear chronological sequence. However, it is important to remember that all movements are highly interconnected and often emerge as a reaction to one another. This is beautifully illustrated in the diagram by Charles Jencks in “Architecture 2000: Predictions and Methods”. …


Image for post
Image for post

“Architectural Context” series is a collection of bite-sized texts reflecting on the developments in our understanding of architectural context throughout the 20th century. The purpose of these articles is not to create an all-encompassing overview. Instead, the careful reader is expected to retrieve the underlying thesis by reading these texts in a parallax view.

Atlas of Concepts

Simplified interactive diagram illustrating the concepts mentioned in the texts.

Table of Contents

Architectural Context Part 1: Order

Architectural Context Part 2: Perception

Architectural Context Part 3: Camillo Sitte

Architectural Context Part 4: Aldo Rossi

Architectural Context Part 5: Colin Rowe & Fred Koetter

Architectural Context Part 6: Robert Venturi, Denise Scott…


Architectural Context Part 9: Physical Context

The Digital Turn

There were several influences that collectively contributed to the emergence of the digital paradigm in architecture. One of those influences was the form of response to the fragmentation and fracture of postmodern collage systems and a movement towards continuity and the pursuit of fundamentally different part-to-whole relationships within architecture.

The conceptual basis for this continuity was found in Gilles Deleuze’s conceptual philosophy and in Rene Thom’s catastrophe diagrams (Figure Below).

Image for post
Image for post
Gilles Deleuze, The Baroque House. From Gilles Deleuze, Felix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia (Minneapolis: The University of Minnesota Press, 2005), 5.


Architectural Context Part 8: Peter Eisenman

All case studies presented earlier although might seem distinct share series of fundamental properties. These theories about the city are striving to discover or induce a category of order. They are intellectual constructs attempting to “measure” and describe the complex relationships occurring within the city, rendering the ambiguous relationships between architectural context and architectural form more precise. All mentioned theories employ the figure-ground principle with various degrees of abstraction, where ground and figure no longer refer to merely visual domain but rather imply an understanding of ground as an abstract substance from which a figure entity emerges. …


Architectural Context Part 7: Rem Koolhaas

In his work “The Formal Basis of Modern Architecture” Peter Eisenman attempted to create an alternative reading of architectural form.¹ He defined architecture as the giving of form to intent, function, structure, and technics and argued that the concept of architectural form had been commonly oscillating in the discipline without explicit attempts to define its precise conceptual meaning. Thus, he proposed a formal language where generic architectural form could be defined through its four essential properties volume, mass, surface, and movement.²

Image for post
Image for post
Diagram illustrating the concept of volume. From Peter Eisenman, The Formal Basis of Modern Architecture (London: Lars Mueller Publishrs, 2006), 58.

Eisenman argued that the concept of volume is a more precise and vibrant alternative to the vague notion of space. The essential difference between the terms is that the volume can operate in a dynamic manner. It can be thought of as a particularized contained space that can exert pressure and at the same time resist external pressure exerted upon it.³ The dynamic state of the volume is caused by the necessity to resist the internal and external contextual forces acting on it. Furthermore, he defined architecture as a three-dimensional system of volumes expanding in time and space that is subjected to different external and internal forces resulting in distortions and deformations of the overall system. Moreover, Eisenman suggests that the concept of movement is essential for fully understanding this new definition of volume since architecture is the only plastic art that is comprehended both internally and externally. ⁴ He argues that movement can be conceptualized as a geometric vector described by its approximate size, intensity, and direction. Thus, vectors act as a notational measuring tool that can express not only a location in space but also intensity and direction.⁵ Vectoral description of movement allows to think of it as a morphing force exerted upon the body of volume that modifies the equilibrium of the formal system under the examination. Within this framework, traditional compositional axes can be interpreted as neutral vectors that can be used to define the position of an object in a neutral Cartesian space but have no morphing effects on the form of the object. Eisenman applied his newly developed formal vocabulary onto the work of Le Corbusier, Alvar Aalto, Giuseppe Terragni and Frank Lloyd Wright to show that highlighted building can be viewed as architectural systems containing inherent formal logic to a certain extent independent from aesthetic functional or metaphysical considerations. …


Architectural Context Part 6: Robert Venturi

In 1853 New York’s world fair showcased the recent technological inventions. Among the exhibits was the elevator invention that would ultimately shape the face of the city for the following decades. In the age of staircases, all the floors above second were considered unfit for any commercial activities and floors above the fifth to an extent uninhabitable.¹ The invention of the elevator allowed to reintroduce these floors to the urban setting creating the typology of a skyscraper. The influence that technological invention of the elevator had on the City of New York is well articulated in Rem Koolhaas’s book “Delirious New York. …


Architectural Context Part 5: Colin Rowe & Fred Koetter

In their book “Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture” Venturi and Scott Brown argue that the main role of an architect is the creation of orderly wholes through the use of conventional parts and with occasional introduction of new parts. Furthermore, similar to Picasso’s “Bulls Head” example he argues, that it is possible to create new meanings through an unconventional organization of parts within the whole.¹ Venturi writes:

Gestalt psychology maintains that context contributes meaning to a part and change in context causes a change in meaning. The architect thereby, through the organization of parts, creates meaningful contexts for them within the whole. Through the unconventional organization of conventional parts, he is able to create new meanings within the whole. If he uses convention unconventionally, if he organizes familiar things in an unfamiliar way, he is changing their contexts, and he can use even the cliché to gain a fresh effect. …


Architectural Context Part 4: Aldo Rossi

It is important to note that Rossi’s work was vital for the architectural discourse at the time since in the second half of the twentieth century the concept of the city was undergoing continues redefinition. The reason for this active rethinking of the city was the post-war environment. As Rossi highlighted the cities can be read as an expression of collective will together with social values and are a result of a sequence of political choices. These political choices shape not only the city but also the life of those inhabiting the city. Post-war world was in the search for the new model for living, and the city was considered to be the means for generating it. …

About

Tigran Khachatryan

Researcher and Ph.D. Candidate at Aalto University. My research interests include Architecture, Mathematics, Geometry, Information Theory, and Computer Science

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store